Research Interests

Introduction

I am the founder and Principal Investigator of the laboratory called Advanced Composites Research, Engineering and Science (ACRES) laboratory.

We work on the durability of fiber-reinforced polymer composites. We study different aspects, from experimental characterization of composites under hygrothermal-mechanical-chemical degradation,  smart composites with embedded sensors, to sustainable/biodegradable composites.

ACRES Laboratory

Our laboratory consists of a 950 sq.ft. (~90 sq.m.) space with a fumehood, downdraft tables, manufacturing capabilities for Vacuum Assisted Transfer Molding and wet layup, an instrumented impact tester.

ACRES Laboratory
ACRES Laboratory (2016)

A nearby laboratory space hosts a uniaxial hydraulic testing machine that I purchased with other faculty members, which can conduct  tests under quasi-static, fatigue and creep conditions, at room temperature or in an environmental chamber.

Research Group and Collaborators

Our current group members consists of several undergraduate students and graduate students plus a research engineer:

Undergraduate students

(in alphabetic order)

  • Duha Bader (also accepted in NASA L’SPACE Academy)
  • Rishabh Bhatia (in training*)
  • David Goulak (in training*)
  • Kyle Jung
  • Horacio Leon (in training *)
  • Nick Loftus
  • Santiago Mejia 
  • Alex Weinstein

* Experimental research activities in the ACRES Laboratory have been suspended due to COVID-19. ‘In training’ students are working on literature review and modeling projects, and carefully monitored experiments when needed.

Volunteers-at-large

  • Marlon Douglas (B.Sc. 2020, Mechanical Engineering)


Graduate students

*M.S. students:

  • Matt Hagan (working full time at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory), from December 2018


*Ph.D. students (in alphabetic order):

  • Early C. Cobb III (Spring 2020-current)
  • Samira Iqbal (Fall 2020-current)
  • Maj. Daniel Nelson (Fall 2020-current), supported by the US Air Force Defense Innovation Unit program
  • I was the Ph.D. co-advisor for Amin Ghafourian Momenzadeh (Winter 2018-Summer 2020), who is now working with Dr. Soltani.


Research engineers/scientists

  • Vanessa Salandez (May 2021-current),  volunteer research scientist; B.Sc. in biological sciences, an alumna of NASA L’Space Academy, and with research experience in the medical field
  • Shreya Rastogi (May 2019-January 2021), who has ~5 years of research experience with ACRES (first as an undergraduate student researcher, then as a research engineer)


Visiting students

In Summer 2021, we are hosting Lincoln High School student Alyssa Rizzardo, and Davis Senior High School student Nathan Fanous.

In Summer 2018, we hosted a Mechanical Engineering undergraduate student from Stanford University, Ghufran Alkhamis.

In February-July 2017, we hosted a Ph.D. student from Sapienza University of Rome (Italy), Marialaura Clausi, advised by Dr. Susanna Laurenzi and Dr. Mariagabriella Santonicola, on a collaborative project on UV sensors for composite materials.

In Summer 2016, we have hosted a high-school intern, Frances Marie Quynn (from Davis Senior High School).

Over the years, we have hosted graduate students from other countries. In Summer 2009, we hosted Anais Farrugia, M.S. student from the French institution ENSMA, who then pursued a Ph.D. at the Ecole des Mines d’Albi (I was invited to serve on her Ph.D. thesis committee). Dr. Farrugia is now R&D engineer in a company manufacturing electromagnetic brakes in France.

In 2014, we hosted for 6 months Ph.D. student Jesus Ku-Herrera in the area of Materials Science of Engineering, from the Centro de Investigación Científica de Yucatán, Mexico (advised by Dr. Francis Avilés). Dr. Ku-Herrera is now a researcher of CONACYT-Centro de Investigación en Química Aplicada, Departamento de Síntesis de Polímeros.

In  2014, we hosted Marie Vidovic, an M.S. student in the area of polymers and composites from the Ecole des Mines de Douai (France), now an engineer at Air Liquide, and we hosted Szymon Furtak, a Ph.D. student in industrial engineering from Copenaghen Business School (Denmark). In Spring 2015, we hosted Yao “Sunny” Chen, an aerospace engineer who worked at Airbus and was trained in China and France.

ACRES alumni

Group members include Yash Taneja, Heather Lynch, David Bartolo, Max Fors (Lighter than Air Research), Linda Wu (engineer, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory), Austin Pastrnak, M.S. (Schafer Corporation/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory), Adriana Henriquez (Waymo), Jon Thomas (National Technical Systems), Sean Comick (completed an internship at NASA Johnson, now he is pursuing his M.S. degree at UC Davis), Thomas Peev, M.S. (Momentus, a space engineering startup in the Bay Area), Stephen Foster, Dara Sobati (Keysight Technologies), Taner Dubie, Richard Bramble (who graduated from Navy Officer Candidate School, and is currently a student naval aviator), Brett Hecker, Bruno Matsui (SpinLaunch), Aaron Guízar, Trent Storm, Sicheng Kevin Li (Ph.D. at UC Davis with Dr. Lee), Ari Wargon (Contra Costa County Fire Protection), Travis Gildner, M.S. (Virgin Orbital, and winner of a prestigious NSF Graduate Fellowship in 2017, which he declined to work in the space industry), Oliver Torrealba Aguilar (Fresenius Medical, Bay Area), Manuel Cordova, Gregory Shelton (Lockheed Martin), Andrew Westle (Battery Operations Engineer at Sila Nanotechnologies Inc.), Cari Pouchnik (Engineering instructor at Buckingham Carter Magnet High School in Vacaville, CA), Sanaulla Mohammed (Lucid Motors), Victor Quintero (Boeing), Kieran Wolk (Ph.D. student at UCLA), Brett Bacharach (San Diego Composites first, then Virgin Orbital), Milani Lyman (Cobham, then Abbott), Brian Pinto, M.S.  (US Air Force), Angelo Magliola (DT Engineering, Roseville, CA), Nicolas Marinkovich (Swinerton Builders, San Diego, CA), Christopher O’ Keefe (Kite Pharma, The Netherlands), Daniel Reid (Genentech first, now project engineer at XL Constructions), Siavash Peiday Saheli (KLA-Tencor, Bay Area), Dr. Serena Ferraro (research engineer who went on to Caltech for her Ph.D., now at JPL),  Steven Kern, M.S. (Carbon 3D), Dominique True (Teledyne Reynolds, CA), Antonio Gomez, M.S. (Hyundai America, Los Angeles area), Alyssa “Nikki” Yambao (RGA Design, Bay Area), Erik Quiroz (Fresenius Medical, Bay Area), Robert Pires (Hill Engineering, LLC, Sacramento, CA), Destiny Garcia (who completed her Ph.D. in the area of manufacturing at UC Davis), Stephanie Zhu (Ph.D. student at Georgia Tech), Miguel Duran, Dayane Marques Oliveira (exchange student from Brazil, who graduated with a certificate of best undergraduate student of her Materials Science and Engineering program, now a Ph.D. student at UC Davis), Luciana Arronche, M.S. (also research engineer), Dr. Bryan Loyola (co-advised with Prof. K. Loh, formerly at Sandia Livermore, currently at Microsoft), Cory Brandli (Kratos Aerospace, CA), Yong Yin Chuah (founder of a start-up in the healthy foods industry in Malaysia, after working as engineering manager in American and Chinese corporations), Charles Winkelmann (research engineer, the ideator of the ACRES acronym, working at Kinkisharyo, CA), Dr. Robert Ireland (former undergraduate researcher who went on to pursue a Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University and is currently at Wagner Dimas, CA), Dr. Ray Tang (co-advised with Prof. P. Erickson, currently at Sacramento State University), Christie English, Samuel Kim, M.S., Josiah Garcia, Michael Kopriva (who went on to earn an M.S., and is currently Instructor at the USAF Test Pilot School), E. Alex Russell, M.Eng. (Kratos Aerospace, CA), Mike Worley (currently at Southwest Research Institute, UT), Peter Le (Mizuho osi, CA), Katherine Lo.

Undergraduate student Benjamin Chia and research engineer David Moyers, M.S., did a lab rotation in 2019.

Research collaborations

Below is the list of our collaborators for the past 10 years.

UC Davis

Nitin Nitin, BioAgricultural Engineering; Taha, Ameer, Food Science and Technology; Vega, Katia, Design; Kronawitter, Coleman, Moule’, Adam, Chemical Engineering; Goldman, Nir, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory/Chemical Engineering; Linke, Barbara, and Robinson, StephenMechanical and Aerospace Engineering; Barbato, Michele, Miller, SabbieYounis, BassamCheng, Lijuan ‘Dawn’ and Loh, Kenneth, Civil and Environmental Engineering (KL recently moved to UC San Diego);  Marcellin-Little, Denis, Veterinary Medicine/Orthopedics; Castro, Ricardo,  Materials Science and Engineering.

In USA and outside UC Davis

Muliana, Anastasia, Mechanical Engineering Texas A&M University; Fifield, Leonard, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; Elhajjar, Rani, Civil Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Orlando, Thomas; Jones, Brant; Reynolds, John, Georgia Institute of Technology; Beltran, Esther, Florida Space Institute; LaVerne, Jay, Physics, Notre Dame University; Lestari, Wahyu, Aerospace Engineering, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; Cavallaro, Paul, Naval Undersea Warfare Center; Campbell, Rick; Dierdorf, Doug; Sullivan, Patrick; Pickett, BrentBocchieri, Robert, Applied Research Associates/Air Force Research Laboratory; Bayram, Göknur, Chemical Engineering, Middle-East Technical University, Turkey; Ledesma, Elias, Mechanical Engineering, University of Guanajuato, Mexico; Briggs, TimLoyola, Bryan, Sandia National Laboratories (Livermore, CA); Skinner, Jack (formerly at Sandia National Laboratories, currently in Engineering, Montana State University); Swartz, Andrew, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Michigan Technological University; Grace, Landon, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, North Carolina State University (formerly at University of Miami).

Outside USA

Laurenzi, Susanna, Astronautics/Electrical and Energy Engineering, and Santonicola, M. Gabriella, Chemical Engineering, Materials and Environmentboth from Sapienza University of Roma, Italy; Avilés, Francis, Unidad de Materiales/Centro de Investigación Cientifica de Yucatán, Mexico; Herrera, José de Jesús, (former) Ph.D. student of the Unidad de Materiales/Centro de Investigación Cientifica de Yucatán, Mexico, and now researcher of the Centro de Investigación en Química Aplicada, Coahuila, Mexico; Ledesma, Elias, Ramirez Elias, Victor, Rojas Mancera, Erick, Mechanical Engineering, University of Guanajuato, Mexico; Bayram, Göknur, Chemical Engineering, Middle-East Technical University, Turkey.

NASA REVEALS Project

From Fall 2016 and until May 2020, I was a key contributor to the project and co-Investigator of a NASA SSERVI Institute, with title “Radiation Effects on Volatiles and Exploration of Asteroids and Lunar Surfaces (REVEALS)”, which was awarded in 2017 (PI: Thomas Orlando, Georgia Tech; UC Davis PI: Stephen Robinson; several other co-PIs, including Esther Beltran at Florida Space Institute). I was one of the proposal writing contributors in Fall 2016, and I had the original idea of using polyethylene modified by a conductive material as the radiation-resistant material that could survive a plasma environment and be used for structural health monitoring. Three journal publications from our group were sponsored by this project. David Bartolo, Adriana Henriquez and Austin Pastrnak (whose M.S. thesis was supported from this NASA grant) presented our work  at the 2019 NASA Exploration Science Forum at NASA Ames (see photos below).

PHOTOS OF THE GROUP MEMBERS

The photos below show most of our group members over the years.Winter